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Robert Casilla
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illustrator visit information
Mary Casanova

Robert Casilla was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to parents from Puerto Rico. Like many children, Robert always loved to draw. As the new kid in his second grade class, he recalls doing a drawing of two birds with colored chalk on construction paper. His teacher noticed the drawing and then told the class, "We have an artist in the class!" Robert is thankful to her and all the teachers that motivated and helped him realize he had talent as an artist. Although he grew up in New Jersey, he did get to attend school in Puerto Rico as a fourth grader.

His formal training in art took place at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he earned a BFA degree.

Since 1984, Robert has worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines, book publishers, postage stamps, educational publishers and others.

He has illustrated over 25 children's books, many of which are picture book biographies of people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks and John F. Kennedy. He has also illustrated many multicultural children's books such as Jalapeno Bagels, The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, The Legend of Mexicatl and First Day in Grapes which won the Pura Belpré Honor Award.

Robert visits many schools to talk about the visual journey a story takes him through to come up with the illustrations for his books. He also teaches art to young gifted artist one day a week.

Robert lives and works from his home in New Fairfield, Connecticut with his wife and two children, 3 cats and his feisty shih tzu dog.

Awards:
Highlights for Children, Illustration of the Year Award
Society of Illustrators Annual #28, #36
American Literacy Corporation Illustrator Choice Award 2006

Dolores Huerta: a Hero to Migrant Workers
written by Sarah Warren
illustrated by Robert Casilla
Amazon Children's Publishing, April 2012
ISBN 978-0761461074

Dolores is a teacher, a mother, and a friend She wants to know why her students are too hungry to listen, why they don't have shoes to wear to school. Dolores is a warrior, an organizer, and a peacemaker. When she finds out that the farm workers in her community are poorly paid and working under dangerous conditions, she stands up for their rights. This is the story of Dolores Huerta and the extraordinary battle she waged to ensure fair and safe work places for migrant workers. The powerful text, paired with Robert Casilla's vibrant watercolor-and-pastel illustrations, brings Dolores' amazing journey to life, A timeline, additional reading, articles, websites, and resources for teachers are included.

Dolores Huerta

The Lunch Thief
written by Anne Bromley
illustrated by Robert Casilla
Tilbury House, July 1, 2010
ISBN 978-0884483113

Rafael is hungry because someone stole his lunch. His mom had packed his lunch bag with two burritos, a bag of corn chips, some carrots, and an apple. Once a week she tucks in a slice of her special lemon pound cake. Rafael saw Kevin, a new kid in his class, sneak his lunch bag from underneath his desk and tuck it in his backpack. But how can he do something about the theft without picking a fight? Inspired by his mother's advice to use his mouth before his fists, Rafael bides his time, but other kids' lunches are disappearing, too. On an errand with his mom, Rafael sees Kevin carrying a bundle of laundry into a motel room, and his mom tells him Kevin's family might be one of the families who lost their homes in the recent wildfires. Rafael rethinks his anger. The next day, instead of accusing Kevin, Rafael invites him to share his lunch, letting him know he's been caught, but offering friendship as well as a good meal.

The Lunch Thief

Larry Bird: The Boy from French Lick
by Francine Poppo Rich
Blue Marlin, 2009
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-0-9792918-3-6

Larry Bird is one of the most accomplished basketball players in American history, but he doesn’t hold any big secrets to the game or any superhuman talent. His keys to his success have always been practice, persistence, and a belief in himself. Most books about famous athletes focus on the career of the person as a professional athlete. This story focuses only on Larry Bird’s life BEFORE he became the star of the Boston Celtics. This is the story of his childhood.

Larry Bird: The Boy from French Lick

Daniel and the Lord of Lions
by Gloria Jean Pinkney
Abingdon Press, 2008
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-0687652358

Gloria Jean Pinkney retells the story of Daniel's faith in the face of great danger.

Daniel and the Lord of Lions

Jackie Robinson: He Led the Way (All Aboard Reading)
by Aprice Jones Prince
Penguin, 2007
ages 7 to 9, ISBN 9780448447216

Jackie Robinson became the first black Major League baseball player of the modern era when he stepped onto the field as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1947. In simple, engaging language, this book follows Jackie from childhood through his career as an MVP-award-winning baseball player and a hero of the civil rights movement. This book is perfect for Black History Month and the start of spring training!

Jackie Robinson: He Led the Way

Midnight Forest/A Story Of Gifford Pinchot
and Our National Forests
by Gary Hines
Boyds Mills Press, 2005
ages 9 to 12, ISBN 978-1-5639-7148-8

This picture-book biography introduces Gifford Pinchot, a wealthy young American who studied forestry in France and returned home to put his knowledge to good use in his own country. Appointed Secretary of Agriculture in 1898, he later joined forces with Theodore Roosevelt to turn 16 million acres into national forests, now known as the "Midnight Forests" because of an eleventh-hour executive order.

Midnight Forests

Primer Dia En Las Uvas
By L. King Perez, Jesse A Perez
Lee & Low Books, 2004
ISBN 978-1584302391 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1584302407 (paperback)

Growing up in a migrant family, Chico has experienced first school days in artichokes and first days in onions, and "now his first day in third grade would be in grapes." His encounters with bullies and the grumpy school bus driver shake Chico's confidence, but a friendly classmate and an understanding teacher help him adjust.

Awards
Pura Belpre Honor Book. Illustrator

Primer Dia En Las Uvas

The Dream on Blanca's Wall/
El Sueno Pegado en la Pared de Blanca:
Poems in English and Spanish/
Poemas en Ingles y Español
by Jane Medina
Boyds Mills Press; bilingual edition (2004)
ISBN 978-1563977404 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1590782644 (paperback)

This free-verse collection delineates the life of Blanca, a sixth grader who, encouraged by her teachers, aspires to become an educator herself. Her dreams are embodied in a picture she drew in second grade of a young, brown teacher who looks like her. Now the tape is yellow and curling, and in the face of challenges from life, Blanca feels that her dream, too, is curling and cracked. The 24 poems outline the obstacles she faces: poverty, non-English-speaking parents, long absences from school to return to Mexico, and a much-loved but underachieving older brother who belittles her ambitions.

Awards
Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Commended

Dream on Blanca's Wall

First Day in Grapes
by L. King Perez
Lee & Low Books, 2002
ISBN 978-1584300458 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1550413403 (paperback)

Growing up in a migrant family, Chico has experienced first school days in artichokes and first days in onions, and “now his first day in third grade would be in grapes.” His encounters with bullies and the grumpy school bus driver shake Chico's confidence, but a friendly classmate and an understanding teacher help him adjust.

Awards
2004 Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor award, ALSC/REFORMA; 2002 Notable Books, Smithsonian Magazine; “2003 Choices” Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC); Best of Beyond Difference List for 2002, Vermont Center for the Book; Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award 2004-2005 Masterlist; Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

First Day inGrapes

Mama Had to Work on Christmas
by Carolyn Marsden
Viking Juvenile, 2003
ages 9 to 12, ISBN 978-0670036356

When nine-year-old Gloria’s mama has to work at a fancy hotel on Christmas, the girl must spend the day there as well.

Mama Had toWork on Christmas

Daddy Poems
by John Micklos
Boyds Mills Press, April 2000
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-1563977350 (hardcover)
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-1563978708 (paperback)

These 22 poems make up one of the few collections on this often-asked-for subject. Contemporary children’s poets such as X.J. Kennedy, Deborah Chandra, and Nikki Grimes, as well as Micklos himself, speak to the everyday but big-as-life importance of dads.

Awards
Children’s Choice 2000

Daddy Poems

The Legend of Mexicatl
Turtle Books, Feb 1998
ages 9 to 12, ISBN 978-1890515058 (hardcover)
ages 9 to 12, ISBN 978-1890515218 (paperback)

Growing up under the blistering sun of the desert, the boy Mexicatl can hardly imagine being chosen to lead his people—until he has a vision. One day the Morning Star tells him to search for “a place of harmony” and reveals the sacred image of the eagle and snake. Only after Mexicatl learns the hard lessons of leadership do his people prosper. Richly illustrated, this is an enchanting story of faith and wisdom, drawn from ancient Aztec history.

Legend of Mexicatl

La Leyenda de Mexicatl
Turtle Books, 1998
Language: Spanish
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-1890515065 (hardcover)
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-1890515225 (paperback)

Growing up under the blistering sun of the desert, the boy Mexicatl can hardly imagine being chosen to lead his people—until he has a vision. One day the Morning Star tells him to search for “a place of harmony” and reveals the sacred image of the eagle and snake. Only after Mexicatl learns the hard lessons of leadership do his people prosper. Richly illustrated, this is an enchanting story of faith and wisdom, drawn from ancient Aztec history.

La Leyenda de Mexicatl

El Pintorcito de Sabana Grande
by Patricia Maloney Markun
Harcourt School, 1997
ISBN 978-0153069796 (paperback)

School is out for the dry season (January-March) vacation, and Fernando wakes up in Sabana Grande, his small village high in the mountains of Panama. He is ready to try his hand at painting, using the information his teacher had given him before the end of the year. He painstakingly searches for and creates natural paints (dried grass for yellow, berries for blue), only to realize there is no paper to be found. He sees that the whitewashed adobe walls of his house would be perfect for the vivid images in his mind and convinces his parents to let him paint them.

Little Painter of Sabana Grande

A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall
by David A. Adler
Holiday House, 1997
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-0823413089 (hardcover)
ages 4 to 8, ISBN 978-0823415069 (paperback)

Offers a succinct, visually handsome presentation of the youth and the career highlights of the history-making Marshall. The early family years, with the strong influence of Thurgood’s waiter father, who loved attending courtroom trials, and his teacher mother, are perhaps the most interesting part of the story.

Picture Book of ThurgoodMarshall

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